At my place of work
This morning, awake at 5:45 a.m., after stoking the wood stove, igniting the gas beneath the tea kettle, pouring a pink glass of grapefruit juice, I turned on the Kindle Fire to check email.
There, sitting so innocently in the in-box, appeared a note from John. He misses me in the Internet world, he says. You and your prose are missed. I sigh from my heart and would have wiped away a stray tear–except it’s still too early. I’m missed.
The part of self that always longs for acknowledgment wants to jump up and down beside a snowbank in delight. Someone misses my writing. Someone loves me. Hallelujah!
The part of self that doesn’t care about acknowledgment raises its eyebrows at the inner child but doesn’t chastise her. I’ve been learning so much in the last five to six years about honoring all parts of the self. Until then, it’s hard to honor all parts of the other person.
But, jeeezsh, John, it’s only been a week since I wrote here at Lake Superior Spirit. That’s not long, is it?
I. Stoking the wood stove hour after hour comforts me. The repetition feels soothing, logs clinking upon logs, flame burning, heat rising.
II. Writing sentence after sentence burns the same way inside me. Joy builds with each unexpected word. Delight tingles when two opposing ideas reconcile. I am stunned silent before the power of words, and always grateful for this craft, this stoking, this amazing possibility of tinder and flame.
III. Photography takes my spirit by surprise. I never think about taking pictures. Days and weeks and sometimes months pass without interest in capturing sight, curve, flash, energy. Photography inhabits my body sometimes, takes over, grabs the camera, insists upon expression. It’s not me. I’m its servant. When it lights its match, I’m putty in its power. People glimpse me with a camera in hand and think its me. They see joy and think its mine. They don’t know I’m simply the log burning itself to ash in those moments.
IV. Another hour, another log. Burn, my child, burn. You’re not losing anything. We’re gaining your precious heat.
Lately, oh so lately, I’ve been able to sit with my own uncomfortable inner places much longer without turning away.
Because of this, I can stay with a good friend on the telephone for 78 minutes and resonate with her pain. I will not shirk or abandon her. I will stay with her in that dark underworld of suffering and regret and perhaps eventual grudging acceptance without turning too quickly toward the positive, the optimism, the la-de-da where it all feels okey-dokey.
Oh how I’ve sometimes turned toward optimism way too quickly in my life, grabbing hold of it like a snowshoe, begging it to keep me safe and navigating through deep drifts.
Others embrace the negative too quickly, resisting, fighting fervently against the way the present moment refuses to meet their expectations, digging their boots deep in snowbanks, paralyzing all ability to propel forward.
Lately, oh so lately, I just allow it all to exist, you and you and you, pain and joy and delight and death, negative and positive, the whole compost of it, the whole turning of the seasons.
Photo on wall in Georgia
New Year’s Day, 2014.
I eat toast slathered with translucent red crab apple jelly that glistens like a stained glass window through its home in a tiny mason jar. It’s a Christmas gift from a daughter who found it in upstate New York and mailed it four states away because the red jelly gleamed so beautifully in the sunlight.
Will the sun shine here today or will the cold North Wind lock it away behind a cell of bitter gray clouds? It’s been cold for days and days and weeks and weeks and soon we’ll whisper “months and months” as our lips slowly turn blue and our feet freeze in our heavy winter boots.
We really must quit meeting like this.
We must quit telling stories blessed freezing winter day after winter day.
But why not tell stories?
The local Anishinabe huddled around campfires in wigwams all winter spinning yarns of Wenabozhoo and the North Wind and bright Nokomis, Grandmother Moon.
Certain stories might only be shared when icicles formed from tears and toes froze in deer moccasins.
Let’s toss another log on the campfire and heat the water for pine needle tea. What, you want coffee? In what century do you live, anyway?
The light of the world
“Do not try to save the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there patiently
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worthy of rescue.”
- Clearing by Martha Postlewaite
Bitter cold still freezes tears this morning. Laughter ricochets off icicles.
I curl up on the couch on this day off work and ponder the dense forest of my life. One hundred thoughts arise like one hundred trees, all competing for attention.
I’ve been waiting patiently and impatiently for the song that is my life to fall into these cupped hands for a long lifetime. Sometimes I hear the tune, so very clear, like ice forming in the bay a quarter-mile away, and feel truly at home. Other days one wanders lost in the forest, wearing fear or sadness like a winter parka, fingers icy in woolen mittens.
Our Little House in the Big Woods
Picture this. The day before Thanksgiving. Waking up to about eight inches of beautiful fresh white snow outside our Little House in the Big Woods. The wood stove humming and throbbing to heat our home, relishing its breakfast of hardwood logs.
Still, we shiver. The back-up gas heater kicked in during the night. It’s frigid for November. I toss more logs into the ever-hungry stove. The logs clink hard against each other, promising more heat.
Barry still slumbers so I sip tea and ponder conflict. Oh, how I loved writing and pondering yesterday’s blog! Oh, how it resonated and thrilled and danced in my psyche all day long yesterday while the wind blew sideways and we purchased our first organic buying club order here in L’Anse, and we traveled up to Houghton on icy roads for Barry to cover a hockey game for his job at our local weekly newspaper.
One might imagine a morning breakfast of hot steaming grains, perhaps oatmeal or wheat berries or quinoa, to jump-start such a freezing morning. Instead I whirred together buckwheat groats and cashews in the food processor. Added chunks of frozen bananas and, OK, maybe some vanilla yogurt just because it smiled so dreamily from its perch in the refrigerator. Healthy ice cream for breakfast!
The pulsing clamor of the food processor woke my husband.
“I thought you were grinding rocks again,” he muttered as he settled on the couch, still sleepy-eyed.
“I don’t think people understand me,” I said.
He rolled his eyes silently. It was obviously going to be one of those mornings in the Little House in the Big Woods.
Posted in November 2013
Tagged conflict, immersive attention, inspiration, Jennifer Roberts, life, little house in the big woods, personal, stress, Thanksgiving, thoughts, writing
What the woods looked like last Tuesday
Tuesday. Blessings of the flock.
You’re walking up the road. The air feels still. Silence reigns between tall trees with lingering yellow leaves. Fallen leaves smell crisp with childhood memories of burning raked piles. In the distance, a logging truck whines. Otherwise, you only hear your footsteps slapping pavement.
Suddenly, up above, all around, dozens of chattering birds surround. From treetop to treetop they call, they tattle, they sing. They dive, they wing between branches, they dance. What kind? You hear chickadee, you glimpse juncos, you see a nuthatch.
It’s the blessing of the flock! All around they create bird magic for you. They sing until you remember your dream-wings, the heft and tilt of flight. Don’t they remind you of seeds everywhere, hidden in bark crevices, to be found when needed and not a second before?
Later, down the road, silence returns. You catch your breath at the mystery of it, the way the flock surrounds and dissolves. How it teaches in a language of feathers and how it can change everything, simply in the arising.
Inside our home–looking out
Today shall be my weekly blessing post. Thanks to my blogging friend from Scotland, Harula, who has inspired me to write weekly until 2014 dawns.
Looking to the right off our deck
Please admire the photos of the still-gorgeous autumn leaves all around our house. This is Home, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, thank all the tree gods and goddesses, as well as the spirit of the divine.
Because this post so means “Home” to me, I shall contribute to the WordPress daily prompt “Home Sweet Home.”
Dear friends and gentle readers,
As promised, here is the blog entry which, edited just a tiny bit, vacuumed its way into Suzi Banks Baum’s “An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice” published in 2013. If you’ve saved a few shekels, do consider buying the book. I promise you’ll hear some delightful, sincere, authentic stories.
Originally posted on Lake Superior Spirit:
Me. Pregnant. Housewife. Smirking. Gosh, that hair DOES look red, doesn't it? Aww, look at little Chris...
OK, OK, you gleaned the truth from that title, didn’t you?
There is a tiny part of me–just a tiny part–that still, after all these years, feels insignificant. As a creative blogger, I am still trying to soothe the indignant inner housewife who is still, yes STILL, upset that I was once labeled as “just a housewife from Michigan.”
(Get over it, Kathy. There is nothing wrong with being “just” a housewife. A housewife is a wonderful occupation! Husbands and wives attempt to quit their 9-5 jobs daily, begging one another, “Can’t I please be a housewife? Can’t I please be a house husband?)
Nonetheless, you shall have to remember.
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